tv To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe PBS August 14, 2010 11:00am-11:30am PST
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this week on to the to the, female candidates break records. then a look at why young girls are reaching puberty earlier. behind the headlines, a conservative atheist who is worried christians are under attack in america. >> hello i'm bonnie erbe welcome to "to the contrary", a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first, wealthy women seeking political office. if the 2010 elections are remembered as the year of the self funded big money
candidate, then women are right up there along with the male politicians. in fact, california gubernatorial candidate and self made billionaire meg whitman is on track to spend the most money on a state election campaign in u.s. history. the former ebay c.e.o. has spent $100 million of her own money. and pledges $50 million more between now and the general election. democratic opponent and state attorney general jerry brown has spent, by comparison, $1 million. polls show them in a dead heat. on the east coast, republican u.s. senate wannabe linda mcmahon won her connecticut primary this week. the former world wrestling entertainment c.e.o. has pledged to spend up to $50 million of her own money on her campaign making her the fourth biggest self-funder in congressional history. while self-funded candidates
have the financial freedom to rely on their own bank accounts rather than donations, they typically lose at the polls. some critics say the excessive spending can offend voters, especially during a recession. so congress woman edwards is there a difference between women who self-fund? are they seen differently by voters than men who self-fund? >> i don't know. i think it is less a double standard. we are trying to figure out what the rules r i think at the end of the day they could meet the same fate because voters get offended when you spend a lost your own money. >> i think you are right that it's risky for candidates because it puts them in stark relief how different they are from wealthy members of the voting public. >> yeah. even though it is not a double standard. i agree one thing is true that women don't get the same bang for the buck that
the male counterparts do. >> i think self funders face challenges that this year with a strong anti-incumbent move all bets are off. >> i wanted to ask anybody. everybody: what do we think about the two huge funders, breaking records, mcmahon in a state of that size, you know, spending a quarter as much or a 6th as much as california which is much more than six times as large as connecticut, i mean these women are spending like $2 per voter. what do we say about the fact that women have advanced financially to the point where they can do that? >> it's true. both mcmahon and meg whitman are putting mitt romney and steve forbes pushing them to the side. i'm not surprised. women are healthier, wealthier and more educated. it was a matter of time until we are seeing a woman like whitman or mcmahon rise to the top. >> congress woman edwards on the democratic side, the two breaking all the records are
republicans. but are there democratic women who have thatted kind of money? >> number one, i think it demonstrates you know that we have a system that is completely flawed and failed. but --. >> why? >> because i think the campaign finance system really doesn't work and although we have these couple of examples now, across the board women do still have the challenge of raising money, getting visibility and all the traditional challees that women have always faced in our political system. >> in the wake of the citizens united case we are trying to figure out the campaign finance of our overall. because people are uncomfortable with corporate mope and not comfortable with public financing. what is the line we are going to walks a public. >> what about the one you left out was self-financing. here are the two women who if they were men, i would think, they would be accused of buying their way in. >> we saw that with ross perreault and there are men who are still throwing huge amounts of their own money. mark dayton, and florida
rick scott. men are doing it too. the women are coming under criticism for t which is surprising to me. >> i was -- i don't think it's surprising they are under criticism because women are trying to appeal to every voter base. they have unique challenges that men don't have. and i don't think it is an unfather playing field but maybe because women try to please everyone generally. it's not uncommon. women candidates tepid to do the same. and i think there's more scrutiny. >> wait a minute. i want to get to, are women -- i actually see it that women are getting a little less of oh, she's trying to buy her way in. in mcmahon's case she has such a risque background but there's not enough time to rhyme the name with her yacht. change the name before she gets into the u.s. senate. >> i don't think that is a bad idea although it's a little bit worse than monkey business. they have to change that. i look for the day when we
can have elections where we don't have to rely on people to be mega millionaires or billionaires to have a fair chance at winning. >> and when you look at these women, one, i don't think they are getting near the criticism that some counterparts have gotten and part of that is because in a primary election, now we are in a general election. i think that we'll see more of that criticism on the self funding and the buying of the election than we have during the primary elections. >> that is a good point. also in california whitman spent 100 in the primary, million, that is, and jerry brown spent a million. and they are in a dead heat. what does this say to you? she has pledged 50 for the general which is of course a lot shorter. but she is already getting ping back in california for just buying the airways. and people are sick of seeing her advertisements. >> well there's the danger. because you know, you begin to get a negative return at some point. you know that gets you to the point in a dead heat.
and jerry brown has 23 million that he has been holding on to. that will be spent and there will be a lot of independent expenditures in that race as well. i think overall, again, this is about a campaign finance system that is deeply flawed. and i don'agree. i think most voters believe we ought to be public financing. it is a question of how we do it and when to get all the money out of politics and especially in the wake of the citizens united corporate spending case. >> explain what that is. >> the supreme court made a decision earlier in the year that corporations could spend directly out of the treasurer for or against a candidate. this changes what i think is finance laws and roles of corporations. i've introduced a constitution at amendment to try to deal with this, because it is a dangerous precedent when aodrvq&zk corporn decides that they like what you say or don't, they reach into their treasury3 to shareholders and spend in campaigns. >> but we don't want something like the disclose
act they were debating in the senate which would have muzzled all sorts of corporations and non-profits except for the few that have set parameters. the nra and the nea. we have to be cautious in any campaign legislation moving forward. >> the court said what we can do is disclosure. we can't do much else without changing the constitution. the question is how you do it. i don't want to give anybody more of a voice than somebody else. and that is the environment we are in. for the women candidates who are spending out of their own pockets i suspect that people will question whether they are buying an election. >> i want you guys' takes on the 1992 was of course the year of the women in american politics and almost exclusively democratic women who joined the senate that year in the house as well. is this the year the republican billionaire female -- the year of the republican women? >> i think it is the year of the free market government
women. we don't want talk down in economic policies and we happen to have a lot of female business women and women with common sense out there running. >> i agree. and i say these are self-made women. these are not welcoming from family money not rock fellers and that is a heartening story. but it will come down to issues. who can create jobs and help the economy. i'm not voting for somebody based on their gender. we saw the appeals in massachusetts for the special election and martha coakley lost. people voted on jobs and economics. >> all right. from big spenders to young ladies. the span of time between childhood and womenhood is slowly shrinking. this according to a study in the journal pediatrics which finds girls in america are entering puberty ever younger. sometimes as young as seven. doctors attribute this earlier onset of puberty to a number of factors,
including the obesity epidemic and environmental toxins. both have been shown to produce estrogen or chemicals which can cause breast development and menstruation. this is causing a major public health concern. researchers have found women with longer lifetime exposure to estrogen are more likely to be diagnosed with breast and uterine cancers. psychological problems can also arise in developed girls who may not be emotionally ready to deal with the hormonal changes and with sexual advances from men. first the socialogical aspects to this. it's happening to girls but not to boys. i have my own theories why and we'll get to that. what is this owe he what does this mean? how should we change laws? education? sex education whatever? >> i don't know the answer why it's happening to girls and not boys but i know that we should resist any
immediate national policies when it comes to food or sex ed. both of these things are extremely personal. what you feed your children. how you introduce sex to your children and i think we have to be cautious in the wake of a study like this not to suddenly impose any national standards. >> is it personal? there are huge race differences. it's happening much more among the african-american highest rate hispanic american community then african-american, then caucasian americans. so what do we do about that first of all. >> when i look at the numbers and see 25% of 7-year-olds on the onset of puberty, 42% among african-american girls, 42% onset of puberty. this raises questions. what it does say to us is we don't just need one or a couple of studies. we need to drill deeply to see what is happening environmentally and socialogically. and then what do we do? how can we prey pair our
girls and our families about the way that they need to be able to guard their own reproductive and overall health. and --. >> your take on that? >> i agree. large degree. >> you did say don't change anything education ali, but don't you think because there are these huge income chasms that it would be a good idea to send a nutritional training at least into public schools in poor neighborhoods? >> i tend to think those are not the best ways of approaching this. michelle obama sort of spell to do out clearly when she started her campaign on obesity earlier this year. and said look when she thought there was concern over her daughter she said she took some initiative and looked at what she was feeding them and their lifestyle and made choices as a mother. and the best thing is to encourage people to get education to find out make sure that their children are developing proper lynn go to the doctor and providing a lifestyle that is healthy
for your children. >> and half of what she was talking about not only does she provide different choices she was able to provide the choices. and the other part is the food deserts. we are oftentimes under served communities they don't have access to fresh healthy foods. what is near and convenient and local, is stuff that is fattening. and it's killing our kids. this is dangeroushen you think about what happens to an 8-year-old that is looking more mature. the type of young people that are coming on to her are not boys her own age they are grown men. that can be a dangerous situation. this is an issue that we need to deal with. >> and how? >> we need to address this issue of making sure that our girls have access to and making sure they have access to playgrounds in their communities and the schools are feeding healthier diets. make sure that we do provide access to quality sexual education in schools. i think that sort of turning a blind eye to the issue and not alowing our children to have all the facts to protect themselves at the end of the day, could be
quite dangerous. >> is this tied in your mind, to the increased rate of unwed motherhood? in all communities in americament a third of children now born out of wedlock? >> i cannot make that connection but it makes one wonder what is going on. in terms of std's and hiv prevention. all of those things are dangerous. we know statistically what happens with african-american girls specifically is that their first relationships do tend to be with grown men rather than boys their own age and this is a key to understanding why that happens. >> i would love to see more research into the causes of this. as you mentioned we need studies there has been speculation over the role of plastic water bottles. is it obesity? it is a variety of things? is it something else? hormones in our milk? is it because of corporate farms? there are a lot of possible things. and i think before we start going down any one path, i would love to see a lot more research. because this does have
impacts on children throughout the course of their life once you set the stage for obesity and early puberty, then --. >> i want to throw something out there, too. my pet medical theory, i'm not a doctor and not a scientific researcher, but what i did find out earlier this year when i did a story for the show, on water supplies in america, is that they when water is recycled and most city water at this point is recycled or at least cleaned treatment plants et cetera, and cities obviously have more americans than live in the country at this point in our time, recycled water includes everything all the drugs that people who have already used the water once have been taking. a lot of women are on birth controls and chemotherapy and whatever and this is going back that is not screened out we don't have the ability to screen out germs and we can screen out
minerals and such. and dirt. but we don't -- what do we do about that? >> you maybe on to something. i know in our water resources committee we have been looking at those toxins in water. and again this is an area where we need research because what may be happening with african-american girls may be different for white girls and different for latinas and other populations where they live, rural, urban and suburban communities. and it seems to me this is an area where we have to start drilling down because you don't come up with good solutions about how to address the problem until we can figure out what is going on. >> may that not be decades and decades away? >> maybe or maybe not. the study that we are looking at now, is one that comes after numerous studies in different communities over the last several years. and you know, beginning in the mid-1990's. and so i think we are learning more frankly. but it doesn't mean that
that is an absence of acting. whether we need to clean up our water supply. whether or not this is happening to our girls. we need to make sure there's fresh food supplies in all communities whether or not this is what is beneath that. these are the things we know there's no reason we cannot act on them. >> losing our religion. according to a new book, a growing battle pits the media against christian americans. "to the contrary" sat down with the self-described atheist author who believes christians are under the attack of mainstream media. >> yeah they are the only acceptable group left that you can make fun of or mock and no one is going to call you a racist or a racial profiler or an ethnic profiler or fanatic. you can go after christianity with relative impunity. >> why would an atheist defend a religious group? cupp does it out of concern
for american democracy. she feels the media lost objectivity, created a tyranny of the minority and caused a breakdown in communities. >> i think it's getting to really ugly place. the place where me an atheist i am offended by some of the language that is used to describe christians. the state or the media can go after the majority who is to say they cannot go after a minority next time? whether it's your faith, your belief system your values? if they can be this vocal against 80% of the country then you could be next. that should worry everyone. >> cupp says the media have a double standard when it comes to discussing faith. she says faith is used to lift up the left and put down the right. her prime example: the media's treatment of sarah palin and barack obama's religious lives during the 2008 campaign. >> when discussing barack obama's religion, they used
christianity, his brand of christianity, to make him seem like this spiritual seeker. and when they talked about sarah palin's religion, and also mike huckabee and mitt romney's on the folks on the right they used them to make them sound crazy. so her christianity was crazy and his christianity was humanizing. it made him interesting. it made him an every man. it was a very intellectually dishonest way of presenting that information. you have two totally different stories. >> polls show americans are skeptical of the media. some 40% say they trust the media most of the time. but cupp believe it is takes more than skepticism. she says christians need to fight back. >> but if christian america first notices it they have to acknowledge it first. and then get angry about it. and maybe vote with their
feet. you know cancel their descriptions. changes the channel. and then i would hope get organized around this issue. and say look enough's enough. we are not going to take it anymore. i'm not to be honest, optimistic. that that will happen. but the bottom line is we are a religious country, founded opportunity judeo-christian values and a country of mainly christians. that has nothing to do with church-state. and nothing to do with the government giving its i am pro tur to a certain faith. these are fact. and for the media or any other institution to say otherwise, is a lie. it's just not true. >> are you concerned that we are losing our religion in america? >> with all due ññ respect to miss cupp i have to ask what planet does she live on? i am baffled by her opinions.
i'm just amazed. i do not see a huge oppression of christians in this country. and her characterization of the campaign, i'm just wondering was that totally a figment of her imagination? i'm almost speechless. >> i agree with her in a lot of what she said. i think there's bias. but i wouldn't have written a book. i think this is counterproductive. we have more outlets to get news out there, to more outlets as we talked about in hollywood, and the media is so vast that to focus on something that katie couric said or written in "newsweek" seems sort of not important anymore. it's more important to focus on the ways that we can get our voices heard. >> wait a second. you mentioned hollywood. mel gibson that movie about christ. is that part of the media that is attacking christianity? >> i don't know. i think --. >> clearly, catholic movie it was unbelievable. >> just because someone on
one of the three named networks now maybe frowns upon christianity, if that is what she is pointing to i'm not sure, that doesn't really alarm me. because i think there's plenty of ways, like you say, to get your opinions out there now. >> do you congress woman, does congress get petitioned for repression of religion? >> not at all. and particularly not for repression of christianity. it really does surprise me. i am a christian and in our community we don't have a lack of christian churches and worship. and if anything, i think it's the challenge to make sure that we are making space for lots of faith and tradition. if miss cupp remembers the 2008 election, the discussion around barack obama and his faith centered aroundv6 jeremiah wright. i would not say that was a positive discussion for the soon to be president. so i'm really not sure where this is coming from.
you know we are largely --. >> i'm not quite sure where she is coming from because i know a lot of atheists and not a one of them would worry about the repression of religion in this country. in fact, atheists feel repressed for the most part that they can't be religious -- religion-free starting with the prayer everyday that starts when the house u.s. house goes into session. but --. >> the news i have been watching has centered around a mosque in manhattan. i have not heard uproar of pulling churches out of new york. >> can you imagine anyone objecting to a christian church being built near the ground zero? i don't think anybody would object to that. >> i think the -- i'm personally concerned and i seem to pick up others concerned about fundamentalmentalism in any religion. funmental christians. funmental islam bu not of any denominations. >> and and we are out of time. that is it for this edition
of "to the contrary." next week senators maria cantwell and susan collins discuss how to slow climate change. join us "to the contrary" extra and whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary, please join us next time. funding for "to the contrary", provide by... >> while other luxury car make remembers still building their first hybrids, lexus hybrids have traveled 5.5 billion miles. imagine where we'll go next. >> the life technologies foundation is proud to
support "to the contrary" on pbs. our foundation seeks to advance science education and to further society's understanding of the life sciences including the impact of ginoics on the practice of -- ginomics on the practice of medicine. >> and sam's club. committed to small business and the spirit of the entrepreneur and proud to support pbs's "to the contrary" with bonnie erbe. additional funding provided by... for videotapes of "to the contrary", please contact...